By Sunspinner Magazine
In this literary round-up, we've tried to identify some of the most exciting small-press publications around, both in print and on-line. But we need your help! If you have a favorite small-press journal that we have neglected to mention, let us know by writing to us at . We'll thank you for it and do our best to include it in our next issue.
Alligator Juniper Published annually by Prescott College of Arizona, this attractive literary journal features very, very good short fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction by talented writers. We recommend Sam Reed's provocatively titled short story "Hello Stranger or A Short History of My Boner," which appears in the 2004 issue. Details and guidelines at http://www.prescott.edu/highlights/alligator_juniper.
Chattahoochee Review This quarterly publication of Georgia Perimeter College is a no-frills affair. That said, between its plain brown covers lies excellent work that needs no further embellishment. Among the many gems contained within, we recommend Liane LeMaster's short story "Richard Avedon Skates the Met"; Charles Edward Eaton's poem "Cauldron"; and Jim Tilley's poem "To: Billy Collins," all which appear in the Summer 2003 issue. Details and guidelines at http://www.gpc.edu/~gpccr/.
Diagram If you purchase only one literary magazine this year, let it be the fantastic (Some From) Diagram, an anthology of Text, Art, and Schematic, published by Del Sol Press. This book is teeming with outstanding short fiction, scintillating poetry, and oddly, almost surreally appropriate schemata (the image of "Mr. Rodman's Trepanning Instrument" on the cover was our favorite, closely followed by the eye-stalk-esque "spiral gauglion cell from the paeumograstric of the frog" on page 24). Although it almost seems a disservice to narrow down such an exquisite collection, we were particularly struck by Andrew Bomback's short story "Henry Kannenberg's Little Slice Of America"; Christine Boyka Kluge's short prose piece "Brain in a Birdcage"; Bill Spratch's "Penny Dreadful"; and "Biography Of A Criminal (As Told by his Possessions, Rising to a Chorus Of Condemnation, Sung by Appliances)" by Sunspinner's own featured writer Paul A. Toth. Details and guidelines at http://thediagram.com.
Drunken Boat The extremely chic Drunken Boat website features fiction and poetry, as well as digital artworks, dream-like cybertexts, interviews with über-famous American literati (Norman Mailor, e.g.), and a layout and design so professionally and soberly wrought that had Li Po himself lived to have seen it, he may well have laid off the sauce, if only for one night, to take in a poem or two before embracing the watery moonbeam and falling off his own drunken boat. We recommend the thought-provoking digital artwork/poem/story "Two Brothers" by Lisa Bloomfield and Rod Val Moore. Details and guidelines at www.drunkenboat.com.
edifice WRECKED Editors Leigh Hughes and Judy Wolf have this to say about edifice WRECKED, a quarterly (print) and bi-monthly (web) literary journal: "We wanted to create a place where everyone has an equal chance of being published. We do not discriminate here against any genre or style or voice. We do not rely on what books tell us good writing is." Sections like "the refrigerator" and "can o' spam" make the eW site a refreshing change from many of the Very Serious literary journals seen these days on the web. We highly recommend Johanna M. Nesler's short story "Stingrays." Details and guidelines at http://www.edificewrecked.com/.
Fail Better This well-run quarterly webzine offers an excellent, eclectic selection of fiction and poetry. We recommend Liana Scalettar's short story "Flowereaters" and Dika Lam's short story "Entertainment for Women." Details and guidelines at http://www.failbetter.com/index.html.
Flyway: A Literary Review This attractive literary journal based out of Iowa State University has showcased well-crafted poetry and fiction for the past seven years. In the Spring/Fall 2003 issue, we recommend Stacy Gillett Coyle's poem "Albin, Wyoming" and Edward Beatty's poem "Thistle Digger's Sleep." Details and guidelines at http://www.engl.iastate.edu/publications/flyway/homepage.html
Gin Bender offers an excellent selection of fiction and poetry, both in print and on-line. We were delighted to click through the Gin Bender archives and read so many poems by poets we have featured (or will feature) here in Sunspinner. We therefore cannot resist recommending Gary Adam's "Ferns" and "Complete and Unabridged"; Robert K. Engler's "Teaching at the Academy"; Nathan Leslie's "Travelers Among Mountains and Streams"; Donald Levin's "Planting Daffodils"; Cory Mesler's "Sex When I was Single and She was Perplexing" and "You Think Running a Poetry Magazine is All Fun and Games?"; Jennifer Thompson's "Bone"; and Natalia Zaretsky's "Memories Pass Below the Bridge." Details and guidelines at http://www.ginbender.com
Jersey Works Based out of Northfield, New Jersey, this attractive literary magazine aims to be "as serious as a bad clam, as annoying as a laughing gull, and as beautiful as...a roller coaster in the snow." We were lured in by the mythical, perhaps non-existent tidepool soup recipe -- and who is this Edna of Heislerville character, anyway? -- but we stayed for the excellent writing. We recommend Kenneth Pobo's poem "Shedding Season." Details and guidelines at http://www.jerseyworks.com
The Ledge Magazine The bare bones black and white cover of the current issue of The Ledge is well-suited to the honest stream-lined writing contained within. We recommend Heather Roote Faller's "Why I worship the great grey whale"; Lynn Levin's "I Wanted To Tell You"; Christina M. Williams' "Black Hole Theorem #1"; Theresa Collins' "Faking It"; Kae Penner'Howell's "Violins"; Thomas Livingston's short story "What We Recognize"; and Neil Carpahtios' poem "Cocktail Party." Details and guidelines at The Ledge Magazine & Press, 78-44 80th Street, Glendale, NY 11385.
McSweeney's Forget The Believer -- the McSweeney's online website is where the real action's at! We laughed so hard that we coughed up lung phlegm. If you, too, have lung phlegm to spare, we recommend Richie Chevat's short prose piece "The Screenwriter's Vacation"; Matthew Simmons' "This Bible You Sold Me Is Clearly Defective and I'd Like to Return It, Please"; and "The Von Trapp Children Speak to a Geneticist" by David Ng. We also look forward to reading The Convalescent by Jessica Anthony when it comes out, hopefully soon. We read the first paragraph and were hooked immediately. Details and guidelines at http://www.mcsweeneys.net.
Missouri Review continues to publish outstanding fiction and poetry of the highest caliber. We recommend Lissa Franz's short story "Islamadora," which appears in the Volume 26, Number 3 2003 issue. Details and guidelines at http://www.missourireview.org/.
Octopus Magazine According to Octopus Magazine's "About Us" page, "Octopus is an online poetry magazine named after a sea creature that is intelligent, lives in dens, and uses ink as a defense mechanism." If this description were not enough to whet your literary pallete, Julia Story's excellent poems -- "Pretend Hardware Store," "Only Nearly," "Why I Can't Quit the Factory," and "A Good Person" -- will surely leave you sated. Details and guidelines at http://www.octopusmagazine.com/.
Prism International Although this Canada-based magazine features "Contemporary Writing from Canada and around the World," we were taken with U.S. writer Harvey Sutlive's short story "The Generator Shack," which appeared in the Fall 2003 issue. Details and guidelines at http://prism.arts.ubc.ca/.
Rhapsoida The Rhapsoida literary magazine has a small-budget feel (staples, slightly uneven pages, just-shy-of-see-through paper), but there is nothing low-budget about its content. We recommend Margaret Malone's short story "Sure Footing," which appears in the Winter 2004 issue. Details and guidelines at http://rhapsoidia.com.
River City This excellent journal showcases prose and poetry of a very high caliber. We recommend John Dufresne's short story "Epithalamion"; Kristine A. Somerville's short story "Sunday Night Nude Crew"; and Joshua Poteat's poem "Meditations in the Margins of the Book of Irish Curses," which all appear in the Winter 2004 issue. Details and guidelines at http://www.people.memphis.edu/%7Erivercity/
Snow Monkey Printed twice yearly, Seattle-based Snow Monkey features an eclectic mix of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. We enjoyed our tour through the Ravenna Hotel and recommend Kevin Conder's poem, "Barrow, Alaska," which will be printed in the forthcoming issue. Details and guidelines at http://www.ravennapress.com/snowmonkey/.
Terminus Magazine This biannual literary magazine based out of Atlanta, Georgia, offers an excellent assortment of fiction and poetry. We recommend Dan Marshall's fantastic prose piece, "Writing the Postmodern Short Story." In a shameless burst of Sunspinner self-promotion, we also recommend Lisa Swanstrom's "The Leaping Bavarians and Other Stories," the first place winner of Terminus Magazine's 2003 Chapbook Competition. Details and guidelines at www.terminusmagazine.com.
Valparaiso Poetry Review: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics While the Valparaiso Poetry Review is a tad (a smidge, a hair, a spot, a bit, un pelín) serious for our tastes, we enjoyed reading Barry Ballard's poem "Paper Trees." Details and guidelines at http://www.valpo.edu/english/vpr/.
Wilmington Blues It's a shame that Wilmington Blues is no more. With that said, take advantage of the back issues and treat yourself to Andrew Bomback's poem, "Why Cowboy Boots Have Pointed Toes," which appears in the volume 3, number 1 issue. Details and guidelines for the defunct WB are available at http://www.wilmingtonblues.com.